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Jul 15

Backyard tales of frogs, cats, and a boy and a girl

“What are little boys (and girls) made of? Frogs and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails, that’s what little boys (and girls) are made of.”—Nursery Rhyme, adapted

English poet Robert Stouthey (1774-1843) is thought to have first penned the famous nursery rhyme “What are little boys made of”. I added the “and girls” part.

Why? Because one day this week in my backyard, I encountered a little boy and a little girl who told me fabulous tales about frogs, about the ones living in my lawn pond. These two could indeed be made of frogs.

It wasn’t long before their tales about frogs included some incredible stories about cats as well. Cats that also apparently live in my backyard.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the fish in my backyard lawn pond yet. I guess you’ll have to ask the cats about that.

Nevertheless, here is what happened when I was watering my flowers the other day, minding my own business, sort of.

From behind a tall fence that separates the patio and the lawn pond, I heard small voices. Walking around to investigate, I discovered neighbor boy Hunter, age 10. With him was a small girl with beautiful red hair and lovely freckles and about the same age. Neither wore shoes, but I am not sure I have ever seen Hunter in shoes in the summertime.

Hunter introduced me to his best friend Rachael, said they met in school and that they both love frogs and cats. And, thus their fabulous tales began.

Rachael started first, “We brought you our frog Jenn, she is having babies. It all started today and she swole up and she is probably having them right now. So we brought her to your pond and put her on a lily pad. Do you want to see her? There she is and look at her fat belly and funny legs. She is not a poisonous frog though, we had a poisonous one and he had yellow hands. That is how you know if they are poisonous.”

Hunter: “We like your frogs, do you know you have lots of tadpoles, big tadpoles, and you have one orange fish (left) and we named all your frogs. Sometimes we take them back to our house. I love to catch frogs. Do you want to know the names of all your frogs? Some of the frogs wake me in the night. Your frogs are so noisy, but I still love your frogs.”

I looked at Jenn. She rested gratefully on the lily pad. I didn’t think she looked so terribly swollen, but we’ll see how she is in the morning, I thought.

Hunter interrupted my thoughts as he let out an excited squeal: “Look at Tom Cat. Did you see him jump? He does that all the time. Have you seen the cat named Evil in your backyard? We call him that because he is mean, and he is all black.”

I turned just in time to see Tom, the motley gray tomcat, jump probably 2 feet straight up into the air to catch a bug. Then, he crouched in the grass ready to pounce on a field mouse, I presume.

Rachael: “Don’t go near Evil. He lives in the woods by your creek, and he eats baby kittens. There are lots of them down near your creek; did you know that? The Mom is Ginger and she has lots of kittens all the time. We name them all. There is Midnight, who has a star on his chest, and then there is Snowball, she’s a kitten still but is fat because she eats lots of mice. There are lots more and we have them all named but I won’t tell you all their names now.”

Hunter, as he pointed to my herb garden: “What is this?”

“Mint”, I explained. “ I have both peppermint and spearmint.” Then, I picked some and showed them how to rub it between your fingers to get the most wonderful scent. I told them to take it home, wash it, and put it in a glass of lemonade or 7-Up.”

Off they ran with their new favorite thing mint leaves. I finished watering and went inside.

About 30 minutes later the doorbell rang. It was Hunter and Rachael.

Rachael: “Can you come outside and talk? You were so nice to us that we want to talk some more.”

Hunter, holding out his hand with a big frog in it: “And, we brought you Climber, he’s my favorite frog.”

Outside we talked and talked and talked about frogs and cats.

It was the best therapy ever I decided for combating an otherwise tiring and overly busy day.

As I walked back to my front door, I almost went instead to Hunter’s house to ring the doorbell and ask, “Can you and Rachael come out and talk; you were so nice to me.”

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